UMW: The Class of 2022: Stellar Student Stories
The Class of 2022 began freshman year like any other, swept up in longstanding University of Mary Washington traditions like Move-In Day, Eagle Gathering and Honor Convocation.
That all changed when they were sophomores. Classes went online, study abroad trips were postponed and everything – activities, internships and volunteer experiences – became virtual. But these students still worked hard, made connections with professors and peers, and persevered. And this spring, a sense of normalcy returned, as did beloved UMW milestones, once again held in person: Devil-Goat Day, Grad Ball and the ultimate goal, this weekend’s Commencement.
Next, these soon-to-be alums will move on to careers, graduate school and long-awaited excursions abroad. Here, in part two of a three-story series, several 2022 grads share their achievements, future plans and how Mary Washington has prepared them for life after college.
When COVID first hit, every single email seemed to bear bad news. Then came Positivity Post, a tiny ray of sunshine amidst the doom and gloom.
Cosette Veeder-Shave was among the Writing Center consultants who wrote and distributed the weekly newsletter. “I’m so proud of the impact it had on the UMW community,” said Veeder-Shave, who is especially thankful for the support of Writing Center Director Gwen Hale, who passed away last fall. “From people like her, I learned the importance of lifting up everyone around me.”
At UMW, Veeder-Shave paid it forward, serving in leadership roles in DiversAbility and PRISM, becoming a peer mentor for the RISE and First-Year Seminar (FSEM) programs, and joining the Campus Christian Community ministry team. She also earned the title of lead consultant in the Writing Center, helping UMW students perfect their papers and projects.
A historic preservation major, she recently received the department’s Prince B. Woodard Award and has served as the club secretary. She has put her knowledge to work in a yearlong independent study with Professor Christine Henry, researching the preservation of lesbian bars across the country, and volunteering at a museum in New Paltz, New York.
After spreading joy across campus, Veeder-Shave will graduate and join a UMW Historic Preservation in Paris trip, originally postponed due to COVID. Then, she’ll begin a master’s degree in museum studies – which was also her minor – in the Cooperstown Graduate Program in upstate New York. It’s bittersweet: “I can’t imagine not being around the incredible people I met at Mary Wash!”
Majoring in both theatre and communication and digital studies, Sterling Barbett has used his talents to shine a spotlight on the many things he’s passionate about.
He serves as president of the Asian Student Association – which recently won an Eagle Award for its program Taste of Asia – and penned a paper on the perception of Asian-American invisibility in the media. Acting in UMW Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar this spring also gave him the chance to dig into historical research, which became the subject of his Honors capstone.
But Barbett has been just as busy off stage at UMW. He has earned spots in three academic honor societies, is an active member of the James Farmer Multicultural Leadership Council and the Studio 115 Committee, and serves as a representative for the Department of Theatre and Dance. He has held student assistant roles for Klein Theatre and UMW Orientation, acted in student films and helped create a series of videos to showcase campus organizations, slated to be released later this year.
In his free time, he leads the UMW Quidditch Club, is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and does freelance voice work, recently appearing in a film that won the Best Animation award at the Berlin Indie Film Festival.
After graduation, Barbett, who minored in French, said he plans to trek through Europe before pursuing a career in television or audio in Richmond. “My most important takeaway is that the UMW community can give you a sense of belonging and motivation to share and uplift others’ stories.”
Katie Warlick intended to major in music at Mary Washington. Now, the Honors student spends her days in a lab handling different instruments – scientific ones.
Biology has been on her brain since her FSEM, Science & Technology: Because We Can, Should We? A neuroscience minor, she has worked with Professor Parrish Waters to research the effects of exercise on mice to better understand Orexin, a neuropeptide linked to reward-based behavior. Her studies earned her an award at the Virginia Academy of Science in 2021.
Growing up in Fredericksburg with parents who are Mary Washington alums, Warlick initially worried that the school was too close to home. Instead, she said, “UMW became my home away from home.”
She embraced campus life, serving as an FSEM peer mentor, helping plan orientations for new students and working in the Admissions and Student Activities and Engagement offices. She also held leadership roles in multiple honor societies and became senior class president, planning the first in-person Devil-Goat Day and Rocktoberfest since the pandemic began. For her efforts, she recently earned the Alex Naden Award.
Warlick will soon begin a master’s degree program in college student personnel at the University of Rhode Island and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Becoming a professor and working in student affairs has been on her mind since coming to Mary Washington, she said. “I hope to pay it forward and help future generations of students succeed, the way UMW has done for me.”
Cosette Veeder-Shave, Sterling Barbett and Katie Warlick are all recipients of privately funded scholarships. To learn more, visit UMW’s Scholarship Opportunities page.